What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
The World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa is fast approaching and will be hosted on the 6-7th of April in the Dead Sea region of Jordan. The forum will address and discuss items predicted to be the biggest challenges for the Middle East and North Africa. The prevailing theme of the forum itself will be an Arab Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Meanwhile in Hannover, Germany, happening right now is Hannover Messe, April 1-5, one of the world’s most popular technology events. Again, the core focus of this huge and influential exhibition is the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the new technology surrounding this revolution.
As a leading theme globally it is an extremely important topic, but what exactly is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
For those of you unfamiliar with the term and unfamiliar with the industries affected by this revolution, it can be quite a confusing subject and although coined as a marketing buzzword, with the way technology is changing, the Fourth Industrial Revolution cannot be ignored.
The First Industrial Revolution was characterised as transitioning hand production to machine production, introducing power in factories such as steam power and water power. The Second Industrial Revolution was responsible for the introduction of electrical energy and mass production. The Third Industrial Revolution was related to the introduction of technology using electronics and information technology.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution also popularly referred to as Industry 4.0, in a nutshell is essentially a technological and automation revolution that is currently occurring shifting the way that we use technology in everyday life and the workforce in a big way.
Some of the very basic key components of Industry 4.0 are big data, the internet of things (IoT) and smart factories. As the future unfolds, computers and cyber-physical systems are forming the ability to communicate information to each other capturing and interpreting data without human input. As more machines become digitally connected to each other via the Internet of things more data is captured on a large scale increasing the accuracy and ability of data, making data smarter.
Smart phones, smart devices and cloud storage, already an existing adoption in everyday life are connecting us as humans. In the workforce however, on a bigger scale, machines are being linked. One of the biggest industries experiencing the full effects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is manufacturing.
Machines in manufacturing factories are being connected through cyber-physical systems and the Internet of things to become smart machines that are using networks, capturing live data and making smarter decisions for running production lines and supply chains. As a result, factories are reducing waste, becoming more efficient, more reliable and producing more accurate lead times and output figures, based on this smart data. Factories incorporating these types of technologies are becoming known as smart factories and are being coined as, ‘Factories of the future’.
There are so many huge exhibitions, forums, websites, companies and publications discussing Industry 4.0. Professionals working in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math) are at the centre of the revolution and are of course well informed but if you don’t work in these fields it is easy to stay on top of the latest news through social media, news articles, whitepapers and blogs.